Ford’s fortunes turning around

Carmaker credits new lines, cost cuts

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. has come a long way from the nearly $30 billion in losses it racked up from 2006 to 2008.

After closing more than 10 plants and slashing 45 percent of its work force since 2006 in its North American division, the Dearborn-based automaker Monday reported net third-quarter income of $997 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $161 million, or 7 cents a share, a year ago.

For the first nine months of the year, Ford has now posted a $1.8 billion profit. That’s a $10.6 billion improvement from the like period a year ago.

Even the company’s long-struggling North American division reported a pretax operating profit of $357 million – its first profitable quarter since the first quarter of 2005. The company improved its cash position by $2.8 billion, ending the quarter with $23.8 billion in cash.

What’s more, Ford said it “expects to be solidly profitable in 2011,” excluding special onetime charges, “with positive operating-related cash flow.”

Ford said a strong customer response to its new cars and trucks, cost reductions and improved results at its financing arm, Ford Motor Credit Co., contributed to the result.

The result was especially impressive because Ford’s third-quarter revenue was $30.9 billion, down $800 million from the same period a year ago.

“While we still face a challenging road ahead, our transformation is working and our underlying business continues to grow stronger,” CEO Alan Mulally said Monday during a conference call with analysts and journalists. “We remain on track to achieve or exceed all of our 2009 financial targets.”

While the federal government’s cash for clunkers program boosted Ford’s sales in the United States in July and August and similar programs in Europe also benefited Ford, Mulally said Ford would have earned a profit anyway.

“We have been increasing our share in this down market every month for the last 10 months,” Mulally said in an interview with CNBC. “So we are on a pretty steady trajectory of growth now.”


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